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Jennifer Van Galder

Jennifer Van Galder of Van Galder Design flaunts her top-notch design skills in Rancho Valencia’s revamped villas.


Best of San Diego: Design & Realty

By The Editors

Jennifer Van Galder photo by Jay Reilly


Be it an inspiring gallery, an innovative new food hall or an exuberant comeback, in San Diego creativity is thriving like never before. Here’s a look at the people and places responsible for putting S.D. in the global spotlight for 2017 and beyond.

Interior designer Jennifer Van Galder ups the aesthetics at the tranquil Rancho Valencia.

“I’ve always thought it was a magical place,” says Van Galder Design’s Jennifer Van Galder of Rancho Valencia, which was recently named one of the world’s best hotels by Travel + Leisure. “It’s like you’re in another world.” So, when Van Galder was tapped to upgrade the luxury resort’s villas­—­­a dozen 3,500-square-foot casitas that come complete with private terraces, hot tubs, and indoor and outdoor fireplaces—she knew the stakes were high. Inspired by recent trips to Portugal and Spain, the 25-year design veteran (previously the owner of Maudlin in La Jolla) dove right in, replacing the carpets with French limestone pavers and oak floors; brightening the rooms with hints of blue and orange; hanging one-of-a-kind Paul Ferrante chandeliers from the vaulted ceilings; and upgrading the furnishings with sumptuous fabrics, custom-made wood pieces and antique trunks from Europe. “You need that old piece that has lived so many lives,” she says. “It’s like having a dear friend in the room.” Jeff Jacobs, whose family owns the resort and hired her for more work at Rancho Valencia, approves: “Jennifer achieved a timeless and elegant design while also inspiring a sense of intrigue and surprise,” he says. In short, she has, with a few charms of her own, made a magical place simply dazzle. Rancho Valencia, 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.756.1123

Gold Leaf

THE GOLD STANDARD From bath products and kitchenware to jewelry and furniture, Gold Leaf offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re in the market for decor that pops or pieces that spark conversation, these four home design stores will cater to any abode. In The Village, brother-sister duo Gracie and James Lee have opened their collaborative venture, Gracie James (7938 Herschel Ave., La Jolla, 858.291.8041). While James and his wife, Susan, take on the business side, Gracie uses her artistic eye to craft a showroom full of exceptional pieces, like a polished custom Dan Herbst table (price upon request). Meanwhile in South Park, new addition Gold Leaf (2225 30th St., San Diego, 619.738.8120) draws inspiration from the Zakka movement (a Japanese fashion and design aesthetic) by bringing beauty to the mundane. Owner Sonya Kemp’s boutique offers luxe selections, including mouth-blown Baladi glass cluster lamps ($265 to $325). Next, following the success of her Kettner Boulevard location, Elexia De La Parra is bringing her Mexican culture-infused Casa Artelexia (3803 Ray St., San Diego, 619.501.6381) to North Park’s homegrown arts block. Expect colorful home goods that blend influences from far and wide. Finally, Liberty Station’s recent addition, Moniker General (2860 Sims Road, San Diego, 619.255.8772), creates a space where the lifestyle of quality and intentionality take precedence. While perusing the best in anything from custom furniture to coffee-table reads, shoppers can indulge in a cold brew or cup of coffee to make themselves feel right at home. 

Pacific Gate by Bosa

SKY HIGH Pacific Gate by Bosa is teaming up with artist Jaume Plensa for a new art installation.

Pacific Gate by Bosa has become the standard for luxury living in San Diego with alluring waterfront views and, most recently, by bringing renowned artist Jaume Plensa to install his next public sculpture, Pacific Soul, in its plaza. The piece is Plensa’s most ambitious sculpture in California to date, incorporating characters from eight different alphabets, including Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Hindi. “Pacific Soul is inspired by the ocean—our greatest public space and a bridge which connects the world,” says Plensa. “I hope my sculpture will be an icon for the city, embracing the diverse community which is always changing yet always intrinsically connected to the ocean.” The complex itself offers superior amenities that allow residents to relax or entertain, such as an outdoor pool terrace, a resident’s lounge and even a private boat to explore the beautiful nearby Pacific. And when you need a little “me time,” whisk yourself away to the property’s spa and sauna, or hit the open road in one of the luxury cars in Pacific Gate’s fleet—but chances are you’ll never want to leave this slice of paradise. 700 First Ave., San Diego, 619.795.3612 

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